The fifth Mapping Ancient African project took place on Monday 11 April 2022 and focused on the African Pollen Database and past vegetation change in Africa.
The seminar was delivered by Sarah Ivory (Penn State University), Rahab Kinyanjui (National Museums of Kenya), and Lynne Quick (Nelson Mandela University). The seminar covers the principles behind and the working of the African Pollen Database (why make data openly available?) and the latest advances in eastern and southern Africa.
For more about the African Pollen Database check out:
Gosling, W.D., Scerri, E.M.L. & Kaboth-Bahr, S. (2022) The climate and vegetation backdrop to hominin evolution in Africa. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 377, 20200483. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2020.0483
The fourth of a seminars in the Mapping Ancient African project took place on Tuesday 1 March 2022 and was given by Minchao Wu (Uppsala University). You can watch the seminar now on the Ecology of the Past YouTube channel. Seminar details can be found here.
The third of a seminars in the Mapping Ancient African project took place on Monday 17 January 2022 and was given by Emmanuel Ndiema (National Museums of Kenya). You can watch the seminar now on the Ecology of the Past YouTube channel. Seminar details can be found here.
The Science in Archaeology 2 course, run as part of the minor in “Archaeology Today” by the Amsterdam Centre for Ancient Studies and Archaeology (ACASA), is currently underway. This year I have again contributed to this course with a weeks worth of activity related to detecting past human impacts. During this week we have focused on what sorts of evidence contained within the sedimentary record can be used to track human actions. We focused in particular on the manipulation of fire regimes and the the abundance of animals in landscapes (i.e. extinctions vs. introductions of domestic species). To illustrate how past human activities can be detected in landscapes I tapped into some recent publications I have been involved with (eastern Andean flank, Samoa and Mauritius) and the students selected papers in line with their own focus to discuss. Here is what they came up with…
The kick off meeting of the INQUA funded Mapping Ancient Africa project took place on the 14 and 15 October 2021. This hybrid meeting linked up face-to-face meetings in Kenya, South Africa, Germany and the USA online. In total around 35 people participated in the meeting over the two days. It was great to start to get researchers back into rooms together, and to take advantage of the online link ups to connect people within regions who could not travel, and people in different continents. The purpose of the meeting was to introduce the researchers to each other and to start to think about how we can work together to deliver the project goals of collating and synthesising data related to past climate, vegetation and hominin activity from across the continent.
Kaboth-Bahr S, Gosling WD, Vogelsang R, Bahr A, Scerri EML, Asrat A, Cohen AS, Düsing W, Foerster V, Lamb HF, et al. 2021. Paleo-ENSO influence on African environments and early modern humans. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 118(23):e2018277118. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2018277118
The first meeting of the, INQUA funded, Mapping Ancient Africa project will take place on the 14 and 15 of October 2021 with face-to-face meetings at four locations (Nairobi, Kenya; Port Elisabeth, South Africa; Potsdam, Germany; Portland, Oregon, USA) being linked up online.
In spite of the challenges and uncertainties that the larger scientific community is currently facing, I am delighted and humbled to accept one of the British Ecological Society’s Ecologist in Africa research grant for 2020. The grant will support my historical ecology project whose main goal is to apply palaeoecological and archaeological proxies to investigate the extent of anthropogenic impacts on vegetation structure and composition of one of the Kenyan Central highlands before, during, and after the colonial period.
The Aberdare range forest provide an ideal setting for this study because they have been farmed by local populations since long before colonialism, and they were heavily impacted during colonial times because of their fertile soils. This pilot project aims to reveal the land-use and land-cover dynamics of the Aberdare range forest, and it is hoped that eventually similar studies will be undertaken in other parts of the Kenyan highland forests.